Cabler tries local VOD

Comcast selects New England for trial rollout

NEW YORK — Major studio movies and triple-X porn are the two biggest turn-ons among video-on-demand customers, but Comcast is hoping to add a third: local news, sports and entertainment.

Comcast will bestow on its million or so digital subscribers in New England the most extensive lineup of local programming ever collected in one package.

Under the marketing campaign Get Local, Comcast has engineered deals for VOD with ABC affiliate WCVB Boston; New England Cable News, a regional channel; New England Sports Network (NESN), another regional channel; PBS station WGBH Boston; and CN8, Comcast’s local-origination channel.

All of this VOD content is free to digital subs, who’ll be able to call up — at their convenience — programs like WCVB’s 5 and 6 p.m. newscasts, Boston Bruins playoff games on NESN, the “Greater Boston” show on WCBH, “New England Midday” on NECN and “Nitebeat” on CN8.

One reason local VOD is in its early stages is that the encoding equipment is expensive. But if Comcast starts to get results from its New England test, other operators are likely to speed up their versions of local VOD.

In addition to the local content, Comcast offers free video-on-demand programming from basic cable networks like A&E, Comedy Central, HGTV, Golf Channel, CNN, MTV, Nickelodeon and BET.

VOD content that subscribers have to pay for includes recent pay-per-view theatricals. Customers can get the VOD versions of HBO, Showtime and Starz! free only if they buy the pay network for a monthly fee.

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